September 24, 2017

Careers in Advertising

People working in advertising jobs are involved in creating ads, commercials, and extended campaigns for client companies. They may also work for a single company, handling a variety of tasks. In either case, the goal is to persuade customers to buy the company’s products or services.

These jobs vary significantly. One person will be a people person, good with talking to others, making presentations, convincing others to buy the company’s services and staying in contact as the campaign proceeds in order to measure its effectiveness. Another may concentrate in the writing business, producing the words needed for the ads. Artistic people gravitate toward the design, color, and art areas and are responsible for those components of ads and commercials. People with great sales talent are hired to promote the ad agency’s services or to solicit ads for media. Researchers study what has worked for past ads, the demographics of the audience, and how effective the ads are once they are running. Other positions are also necessary for a well-run ad agency or ad department. Managers and art directors oversee the process and financial people keep track of the money spent.

All these skills are needed to create and produce successful ad campaigns. The various people and departments must work as a team to effectively serve the clients and produce profitable campaigns.

Account Executive

The account executive, or account supervisor, is responsible for liaison between the ad agency and the client. She may be assigned an account of a company that has already been a client of the ad agency or she may go out and win a new account. Often, account executives are handling several accounts at one time, so this job requires juggling tasks and deadlines.

When the account executive begins a new account, she analyzes the past advertising that the client has done. Pulling in the skills of a market researcher, she will investigate the success or failure of the past campaign(s), study the targeted audience through demographics, and see what can be done to promote success for a new campaign. Then she works with the creative side of the agency to plan a new ad campaign. Once an idea has been formed, the copywriters and graphic designers will work on a presentation for the client, mixing the concepts, words, and art so the total package can be seen. The account executive arranges a meeting with the client and presents the ideas. If approval is given, the creation of the ad campaign goes forward. If the concept is not quite right, the account executive and the rest of the team make changes to the campaign as needed.

Once the campaign is completed, it is sent to the different types of media—print, radio, TV, social media, and Internet. The account executive measures the success of the campaign with help of other team members, keeps track of the money spent, and handles any changes that are needed. She also continues as a liaison to keep the client up to date with the progress of the campaign.

Work schedules can be extremely stressful. Deadlines must always be met, which often requires long hours. In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determined that more than 80% of people working as advertising managers, including account executives, worked 40 hours or more a week. The job can also require substantial amounts of travel, depending on where the clients are. The largest ad agencies are located in large cities, so that is where the bulk of account executive jobs will be. Most other small cities and towns will have at least one ad agency.

The usual path to advancement for an account executive is to higher management positions. Many go on to become an agencymanager, supervising several teams. Some account executives start their own agencies after gaining experience.

The BLS estimates little growth in these jobs for the next decade. The sharp drop in the ad revenue used by magazines and newspapers is partly offset by the increase in the number of television stations and the rapid rise of social media and Internet marketing.


A Bachelor’s degree in advertising is highly desirable for landing these jobs. Degrees in business, communications, or journalism can also be useful. An account executive may also have experience in other jobs, such as ad sales agent, researcher, or sales representative. Other characteristics for a successful account executive include good interpersonal skills; a talent for in time management; and excellent people management abilities. The account executive should also be capable of handling stress; have the ability to be flexible yet decisive; be exceptionally creative; possess outstanding communications and persuasive abilities; and be highly motivated. The ability to speak another language can be useful and a person who works on technical or scientific accounts should have some knowledge of those topics. The account executive should show tact and integrity.

The median salary for an account executive is about $60,000. Salaries start at about $43,000 for entry-level jobs. Some account executives also receive bonuses or commissions as part of their annual pay.

Media Planner

The job title of media planner is fairly new, brought about because of the rapid increase in the types of media available. The media planner works within the agency, but is not a part of creating or producing ads. He is responsible for where the ads will be seen. Another title for media planner is brand planner or brand strategist.

A media planner spends his time studying media markets, audience demographics, effectiveness of a variety of ad types in those markets, and how to best reach the right market. He will gather data on what television shows the public is watching, what magazines and newspapers they are reading, and what social media they are using. The media planner will track the available media space, what it costs, and how effective a return is received. He will analyze award-winning campaigns to understand how they worked and why.

The media planner maps out where and when the ads or commercials for the client company should be shown. He negotiates ad space and time, the budget, and when the ads will appear. Once the campaign has begun, he ensures that the ads are running as negotiated, tracks their effectiveness, and makes changes in media outlets as needed. He also analyzes the strength of campaigns produced by the competition.

Media planners are also known as brand planners, because they handle the image of the client company across all media and promotions. For example, the advertising department may be running an ad campaign through Internet, Facebook, TV commercials, and magazine ads, while the marketing department is conducting a discount program, giving customers an amount off of the regular price. The media planner makes sure that the message is consistent across the spectrum—same logo, constant tag lines, similar art and color schemes. This work leads to brand recognition for the public and increases the productivity of the promotion for the client company.

As part of an agency, the media planner works with all departments—creative, planning, research, and sales.

Like most other professionals in the field, the media planner often has a heavy work schedule, with many hours of overtime, working evenings, weekends, and holidays. For some weeks, the schedule may be the regular office hours, but when deadlines are approaching, long hours will probably be necessary. A large amount of time may be spent on the Internet and social media sites, as well as in meetings with clients and other agency departments.

To advance in the field of media planning, a person will usually have the goal of becoming a media manager. That person may also decide to open his own business or move to a larger agency, serving larger, more prestigious clients.

The field of media planner seems to be growing rapidly, as more media outlets are invented. While overall employment numbers in the field may shrink in the next few years, the need for media planners will likely increase.

The educational background of a media planner is usually a Bachelor’s degree in advertising or marketing. Many agencies also like a person to have some experience, possibly as an ad sales agent, media sales representative, or media researcher.

Other traits of successful media planners include excellent communications skills; outstanding interpersonal skills; experience with all kinds of media, including social media; good time management skills and research abilities; ability to multitask; financial knowledge; and a good understanding of areas such as demographics, surveys, and customer loyalty. estimates the median average salary for media planners at $48,404. An entry-level job may pay about $37,000 while those with more experience can make up to $60,000. Some media planners also receive commissions and bonuses for outstanding work.


Researchers work at both the planning and the implementation stages of an ad campaign. They may work closely with the media planner to conduct research to see what markets are best for a campaign and with the account executives to analyze the customer’s desires. Then they also investigate and track the success of the campaign after it is launched. They conduct surveys on customer’s buying habits, media viewing, preferences, prices and sales data, and customer preferences.

Designing and conducting surveys and analyzing the results are part of these jobs. Because surveys can be conducted in a variety of media, the researcher may be gathering data from Internet surveys and comments, from questions asked at a public place, such as a mall, or from phone inquiries. They design the survey to point to the information that is needed for an effective campaign. They also use Internet demographic sites to plan a survey and to provide input to the media planner for the places to launch an ad campaign. Choosing the parameters to be tested and the questions to be asked are a big part of survey design.

A researcher will also analyze and track the success or failure of a competitor to the client company. By analyzing the competitor’s ads, they can determine what components work best and advise the creative team on those factors. Staying current on industry trends is also important.

A broader part of the researcher’s job may be advising clients on new product lines, promotions, and how to increase their customer satisfaction based on customer surveys.

The work schedule can be very hectic if a campaign has just launched. Enormous amounts of information will be gathered and need to be analyzed at this point. Before a campaign has started, the researcher will likely have a slower, but still fast-paced, schedule and will spend a lot of time on designing and conducting surveys, researching past ads and commercials, and collecting demographic data. Tight deadlines may require overtime work on evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Researchers can advance to supervising other researchers or to such jobs as media planner or media manager. The Marketing Research Association has a certification process that includes experience in the field, educational levels, and other criteria. This certification could lead to a higher salary and more responsibilities on the job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts all market researchers in one report, so it is difficult to sort out those working in the advertising field. In 2008, they measured 273,200 people in market and survey research jobs. The majority, about 249,800, of these jobs were in market research. They were spread through a number of industries, including advertising. The BLS expects the field to continue to grow at a higher rate than for most professions.

Most researchers will have at least a bachelor’s degree, although some will have advanced degrees in fields such as communications, sociology, or marketing. Researchers must have excellent math and analysis skills, good research and computer abilities, excellent problem solving talents, and good communications skills. They should be detailed-oriented, good time managers, handle stress well, and work well in teams. The growth of social media means that the researcher must understand the new media and know how to use media effectively for advertising. Knowledge of sales techniques, statistics, and specific computer software is crucial. College courses in marketing tactics, advertising principles, communication strategies, and mass media are valuable. estimates the median salary of a market research analyst I at $49,771. For more experienced employees, the salary rises to $89,000.

Art Director

One of the creative jobs in this field is that of art director. The art director is the manager for the artistic part of the creative department. She oversees the work of graphic artists, photographers, layout artists, and graphic designers. Development of the creative design and implementation of the total concept is part of the art director’s job.

The art director typically will be in on the discussion about idea, concepts and proposals from the beginning. She will develop ideas and present them to the team and sometimes, to the client. Once the total concept is developed, she is responsible for bringing all the creative parts together. These parts may include drawings, photographs, designs, color, and video. It is the art director’s responsibility to ensure that the design and layout are eye-catching and appealing and that they target the right audience. A campaign may require several different versions to hit all the desired audiences and types of media and the art director is in charge of all of the art components. The pieces for the ad campaign can vary widely, including billboards, brochures, print ads, television commercials, and Internet and social media ads. Because much advertising today is done on the Internet or social media, the art director will also coordinate with a computer programmer or designer to ensure that the graphics work for the user.

The art director coordinates the work of several people and she also interacts with the client. She makes the assignments for the design and production work for graphic artists, photographers, and designers and then puts into action the plan to bring it all together.

The work schedule can be hectic, which can lead to stress. Short deadlines and waiting on others to finish work before the art director can review it can be difficult. The concepts planned by the art director, or the finished product, may be rejected by the rest of the team or by the client, leading to overtime work to make the necessary changes. Long hours can be expected on a weekly basis, with an art director often working evenings, weekends, and holidays to finish a project. Often, she is working on more than one project at a time.

A person may start out as a graphic artist or designer and through experience and possibly, more education, advance to the job of art director. The art director is at the top of the management scale for these creative positions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that 84,200 people were working as art directors in 2008. The BLS predicts that the career field will grow at a faster rate than most professions, at about 12%. Art directors in the sector will see strong growth in job opportunities over the next decade.

Art directors typically begin their careers as graphic artists or layout artists and advance to the management position. They usually have degrees in graphic arts, design, or advertising, or possibly in art. Becoming an art director likely will require five to seven years of experience. Art directors must be good people managers, have great creativity, excellent communications skills, and an outstanding eye for design, color, and artistic techniques. They need good time management skills, great design capacity, good artistic skills, a good grasp of the impact of images and color, strong computer skills (especially design and presentation software), and experience with a variety of media platforms.

The BLS measured the median average annual salary for art directors at $76,980 in 2008. Art directors with more experience or working at large, prestigious agencies can make more than $100,000.


Those who work as copywriters are part of the creative side of the business, along with graphic artists and designers. The copywriter uses words to persuade people to buy the product or service. They write everything from scripts for radio and television commercials, to copy for print ads, to tweets for Twitter and ads for Facebook. They are responsible for any words in an advertisement, regardless of the media where the ad will play. Copywriters create ads, brochures, commercials, and mail pieces for direct mail campaigns.

The copywriter works with the other creative types, including the art director and graphic designers, to develop a concept. The words must match and complement the images and photographs used for the ad or commercial. Once a concept is chosen, the copywriter writes the text, headlines, captions, slogans, and scripts for videos. They may also prepare sales letters, press releases, web content, articles for trade magazines, and catalog copy.

As the copywriter prepares the copy, he/she must be careful about the number of words, as the text must fit into the layout of the ad or the time of the commercial. To write an effective ad or commercial, he/she uses vibrant words that bring up an appealing image for the customer. The copywriter must understand the audience for the ad and how to write to target that audience.

A beginning copywriter may be assigned to write body text for ads and advance to writing the shorter items, such as slogans and headlines, which, even though short, are harder to write. Any copywriter should understand the impact of the Internet and social media and how to write for that market. Web copy must have strong SEO (search engine optimization) words so that the website is easily found at the top of the search engine results. In large ad agencies, a copywriter may specialize in such items as print ads, catalog copy, social media and Internet ads, or direct mail copy.

A copywriter usually works long hours, just like most employees in the field. When a deadline is approaching rapidly, copywriters may be needed to change words or write new ones to fit an ad. This can mean evening, weekend, and holiday hours. Copywriters may spend hours in team meetings and also spend a lot of time at their computers. Many copywriters work as freelancers, from their own home offices on contracts from ad agencies, but most work as an employee of the agency. Usually the workload consists of several projects at different levels of development.

To advance as a copywriter usually means a person writes more of the content for ads and commercials and is assigned to work for more prestigious clients, earning the title of senior copywriter. A copywriter might also manage other copywriters.

In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 7,100 writers in the fields of advertising and public relations. The outlook for copywriting job growth is much higher than the average for all professions at about 17%. Copywriters who can produce good SEO copy and that used in social media will especially be in demand.

The educational background for a copywriter is typically a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, advertising, communications, or English. Copywriters must have excellent writing, grammar, and composition skills; pay attention to details; have outstanding computer skills; be creative; and have a good understanding of persuasive writing. Knowledge of SEO copywriting is essential, as are creativity and the ability to visualize the connection between words and images. lists a median salary of $42,112 for a beginning copywriter with salaries going up to about $66,000 for senior copywriters.

Layout Artist

The layout artist is the one who takes the work of the rest of the team and puts it together. He designs the position of graphics, text, headlines, and other components, such as charts and graphs to finish the campaign. The layout artist combines the choice of images, photographs, and artwork from the graphic artists and the blocks of text and headlines from the copywriters. If the product is for the Internet or social media, the layout artist must ensure that graphic components, interactive elements and navigation aids work properly. He decides if the photos would be better in color or black and white, and chooses the color schemes and the typefaces for the text, the overall color of the ad, brochure, direct mail piece, or billboard. Different artistic techniques are used to create the desired effect.

The components of an advertising product are manipulated on the computer screen until the layout artist is satisfied with the result. All of the pieces of the design may be printed out and moved around on a graphing table to choose the placement of the elements. Then a junior layout artist will paste up the design, either with paper sections or on the computer. Design approval is received from the rest of the team and hopefully, from the client. Once the approval is given, the layout artist works to complete the design and the pieces are produced. For a commercial, the video is shot and edited and then reviewed by the team and by the client. Web design or ads for social media are created in much the same way.

The work schedule for a layout artist can include long hours, often more than 40 per week. The times can be evenings, weekends, or holidays. Layout artists work as members of a team and are under the management of the art director. Because the work of the layout artist is the final step before the actual launch of the campaign, he is typically working under extremely tight deadlines right at the end of the project. This can lead to stress.

In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that 286,100 people were working as graphic artists and layout artists. Since this number includes those working in those job titles for magazines, newspapers, and book publishers, in addition to those in the field of advertising, it is hard to know exactly how many were layout artists for ad firms. The growth of jobs for layout artists is predicted by the BLS to be 13% through 2018, about the same as for all professions.

Many layout artists begin their careers working as graphic artists. They earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in graphic art and build up a portfolio. Courses in art techniques, color design, computer-aided design, principles of design, and art production are standard classes, along with advertising, business, computer skills, and the basic courses of English, math, and science. A person with a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design may start out working as a layout artist.

Web design is crucial for the layout artist today. Many work exclusively with Internet campaigns. The layout artist must consider the end user in designing navigational buttons, drop down menus and other website components.

A successful layout artist will have a good eye for color and balance in a design. The layout artist must pay attention to details, work well under pressure, have good people and communication skills, and be self-motivated.

Layout artists can make about $45,000 at entry-level jobs. As their experience increases, the salary can increase to about $75,000.

Graphic Artist/Designer

People working as graphic artists or graphic designers perform the jobs that provide the images, photographs and artwork for ad campaigns. They plan the visual parts of the ad or commercial, design the art and then create it. The work of the graphic artist or designer is managed by the art director and he/she works as part of the advertising team, along with the other creative people, including copywriters, and with the account executives.

Some graphic artists specialize in work for the Internet or social media. Others concentrate on print items, such as magazine and newspaper ads, brochures or direct mail packages. Others specialize in television commercials and videos.

To begin an ad or commercial project, the graphic artist considers what the client needs, what the goals of the piece are, and how it should impact the customers who see it. Then the graphic artist sketches out ideas, either by hand or by computer, and presents them to the team. If the ideas are approved, more work is done so that the project appears closer to what the final product will look like. Next it is submitted to the client for approval. If changes need to be made to the design, color, logos, or the photographs and drawings, the graphic artists make those adjustments. Commercials or videos for Internet viewing require videos and animation, which are also created by a graphic artist.

Once the concept and design have been approved, the graphic artist creates the final product. He will use specialized computer software to create the art parts of the project and also to combine them with the colors, logos, and other design components. For a video, the graphic artist will program the animation that is needed, using images created on the computer, photographs, or movie clips. Photographs and illustrations can also be part of the layout.

Graphic artists can be called on to work long hours, particularly when deadlines are near and changes to a product must be made. Working weekends, evenings, and holidays are fairly common. Rejection of concepts, designs, and finished products are possible, so the graphic artist must learn to be able to deal with rejection and not take it personally.

A graphic artist can advance in the field by becoming a senior graphic artist or designer. To be promoted higher is usually to take the job of art director or layout artist.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that 286,100 people were working as graphic artists or designers in 2008. This number includes those working for magazines, newspapers, and book publishers, in addition to those in the field of advertising. The growth of jobs for graphic artists or designers is predicted by the BLS to be 13% through 2018, about the same as for all professions. There is an increased demand for graphic artists with skills applicable to website design.

To start in the graphic arts field, a person can have an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree. It is helpful to have worked on an internship and to have a portfolio of samples when looking for a graphic arts job. A graphic arts student will usually take multiple art and design courses, computer-aided design, website design, and commercial graphic production. Business and computer courses are also valuable. The National Association of Art and Design has an accreditation program for community colleges and four-year institutions offering art and design degrees.

The BLS estimates the median average salary for graphic artists at $43,450 for those in the advertising field. The American Institute of Graphic Arts reported that entry-level graphic artists made about $35,000 in 2008, while people in more senior positions made up to $60,000.

Advertising Sales

A sales job is similar to that of account executive. However, the media sales person is not creating the ad campaign. Instead, she works to sell the agency’s services to a company or business. She can sell ad space or commercial time for newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations. She might even promote sales of such items as the banners on the side of buses or billboards, or work exclusively in selling direct mail campaigns.

A person working in advertising sales must start with market research. They have to know what demographic group will be attracted to the product or service that the client is selling. Then they must know what shows that target group watches on television and what newspapers and magazines they are likely to read. Placing an ad in the wrong time slot or magazine wastes the client’s money and ruins the chance of future business with that company.

The successful ad sales agent usually starts with a Bachelor’s degree in advertising or business and adds sales experience. To work in advertising sales, you must be able to make cold sales calls, handle the concerns of clients, and have strong people skills. You may have to endure a lot of rejection before reaching a sale, so you must have self-confidence and self-motivation. Excellent communication skills, good writing abilities, and time management skills are crucial. An advertising sales agent must be able to handle several accounts at one time and still continue to prospect for more. Once a sale has been made, the ad sales agent acts as liaison between the client and the media outlet.

Advertising sales agents may spend a lot time at their employer’s offices, making phone calls. They may also be traveling to client sites for sales calls or for presentations. Long hours, including night, holidays, and weekend times are normal. Ad sales agents may need to organize their own schedules around their clients’ workload.

Media outlets, such as radio, television, magazines, and newspapers are looking for ad sales reps with Bachelor’s degrees (and with sales experience as an added plus). A person who has taken broadcasting or business courses may also have a better chance for a job. Courses such as psychology, graphic design, and statistics can be useful. Advancement in the job usually means handling more prestigious companies and possibly supervising other sales agents.

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) counted 166,800 people in media sales, advertising sales, and public relations in 2008. There were three main industries employing these people: 33% worked in advertising, public relations and related companies; 32% were hired by publishers of newspapers, magazines, and books; and 17% were in radio and television. In this BLS report, there was no breakdown between media sales and advertising account executives.

The expected growth for media sales, advertising sales and public relations through 2018 is 7%, about the same as the average for all jobs. The decrease in print media sales and advertising is expected to be offset by an increase in Internet sales. There is no estimation yet of a change due to social media, such as Facebook. These jobs are sensitive to economic downturns, so some of the projections may change. This will increase the competition for jobs at all levels, but especially at entry level.

Advertising sales agents may work on a commission basis, so that must be taken into account in looking at salaries. The BLS estimates an average median salary of $43,480 with the middle 50% making from $30,750 to $64,320. Salaries will be higher in television and radio sales and in larger cities, and in jobs for companies that sell a lot of advertising.

Media Manager

The media manager is the link between the advertising agency and the media markets. The advertising job title can also be media director or media coordinator. He also manages the media planners as they study markets and demographics, conduct media surveys, and interact with the various media. Along with the advertising manager, the media manager coordinates the media side of the launch of any advertising campaign. This is a senior position for the advertising agency, equivalent to the advertising manager and the art director.

A large part of the job for the media manager is analyzing the information gathered by the media planners. He determines what markets are effective for the proposed campaign, what costs will be entailed, how to spend the budget given by the client, what times and places are best for the ads and commercials to appear, and the consistency of the message across the various media. The rapid increase of Internet and social media advertising means that the media manager must be accomplished in the understanding and use of these markets. Once the media planners have devised a plan of action, the media manager reviews it, adds his input, and begins the campaign. He negotiates terms with the various markets to get the best deal with the greatest amount of coverage.

The media manager also investigates the advertising of the competition. By knowing what the other companies are doing, he can make better plans for his/her agency. He also keeps track of trends in the business, whether it is print, television, or digital media.

Once the campaign has been launched, the media planners gather the data and keep track of the campaign’s progress and effectiveness. The media manager reviews the results and requests changes from the advertising team if needed. He keeps the client informed of the statistics that are gathered and the money that has been spent.

The work schedule for a media manager can be very hectic, especially when an advertising campaign is near launch. He often travels to the offices of clients and to media outlets, such as radio and television stations. Work on evenings, weekends, and holidays is routine. Most media managers typically work more than 40 hours a week. As the person connecting the ad agency, the client, and the media, he often deals with conflict and negotiation. It can be a stressful job.

Most media managers started out as account executives or media planners. They probably have several years of experience, so this is not an entry-level job. They sometimes leave the ad agency and start their own businesses.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not differentiate between advertising managers and media managers in its report on the field. However, the report shows about 44,000 advertising managers in 2008. The prediction is that the job growth will be much higher than for all professions—about 24% through 2018. Much of the growth stems from a higher demand for managers competent with the newer media, such as the Internet and social media.

Media managers usually have higher levels of education and experience than other employees at an advertising agency. They may have started with a Bachelor’s degree and accrued several years of experience before becoming a media manager or they may have started the job with a Master’s degree. The MA (Master of Arts) degrees are usually in advertising, mass communications, or business. Other desirable traits are the ability to work with and manage people, handle money wisely, and have good negotiation skills. Media managers should have outstanding time management and stress handling capabilities, as well as integrity and motivation.

A median average salary for media manager is about $58,000, but many make much more.